Roanoke City Council asks Robert Jeffrey Jr. to take leave of absence amid ongoing legal troubles

Roanoke Valley News

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — The Roanoke City Council voted on a resolution Monday night to ask Councilman Robert Jeffrey Jr. to take a leave of absence after he was indicted for multiple felonies over the past few months.

This news comes after Jeffrey was indicted by a grand jury on July 6 for two counts of felony embezzlement following a complaint made by the “Northwest Neighborhood Environment Organization.” Jeffrey reportedly manages the property.

In addition, Donald Caldwell — the Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Roanoke — announced on Oct. 4 that Jeffrey was indicted for two counts of obtaining money under false pretenses from the city’s Economic Development Authority between Nov. 12, 2020 and Dec. 2, 2020.

According to the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, Jeffrey reportedly took significantly more than the $1,000 minimum for felony larceny.

You can read the resolution from the city council meeting on Monday, Oct. 18 below:

A resolution asking that Council Member Robert Jeffrey take a leave of absence from the City Council until final disposition of criminal charges that are pending against him are disposed of by the court.

Whereas, Council Member Jeffrey has been indicted for two felony charges of embezzlement and two felony charges of obtaining money from the city’s Economic Development Authority under false pretenses.

Whereas, the criminal trial of Council Member Robert Jeffrey for these felony charges has been continued until March 14, 2022.

Whereas, Council Member Robert Jeffrey has asserted his innocence regarding these charges, and council recognizes and supports the fact that an individual facing criminal charges is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Whereas, council does not have the authority to mandate that a member take a leave of absence while such charges are pending.

Whereas, the continued presence of Council Member Robert Jeffrey at council meetings inhibits the effectiveness of council by distracting the public from the business of the city.

Whereas, if Council Member Robert Jeffrey is convicted of the felony charges pending against him, and he has exhausted all rights of appeal, then he would not be suitable to serve on council and shall, by such final conviction, forfeit his office.

Whereas, should Council Member Robert Jeffrey be acquitted of pending charges, he should return to his duties as a council member. And, therefore, be it resolved by the Council of the City of Roanoke that council hereby request that council member Robert Jeffrey take a leave of absence until final disposition of criminal charges that are pending against him are disposed of by the court trying the case.

Jeffrey replied he understood the reason why his colleagues brought this measure to a vote, saying that some of the reasonings are political in nature.

“I understand, as an elected officer, we have to sometimes have to do things political, to show face and expressing their issues and concerns with the public. I do want to reiterate that, against these charges, that I am innocent of these charges, and I strongly, in stating the fact of my innocence, I appreciate the fact that this resolution is being adopted,” Jeffrey said.

“However, I’m going to make it very clear and I want to make sure that everyone knows and understands, that my intent is to say in office,” the councilman continued.

Jeffrey says he is innocent of the charges and is willing to go have due process.

Roanoke City Council members voted unanimously to pass the resolution, but Jeffrey abstained. However, the council does not have the power to force one of its members to step down.

Jeffrey’s trial is currently scheduled for the week of March 14, 2022.

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